ArtyGeek created and is enhancing an app that integrates with Dynamics NAV, giving a sales team customer insights in the field.
While their English skills could generally be improved, the team has a very strong technical and business understanding of what is required to make the partnership a success. The cost advantages have surpassed expectations without sacrificing quality.
"Their ability to transform business processes into technical solutions is good."
Introduce your business and what you do there.
We're a Danish egg production company that has four factories in Sweden and Denmark and we bought a share in a Finnish company so we actually have activities in five production facilities. We have about 500 employees.
My responsibility is all of the systems between the manufacturing machines, all the internal processes, and the users. This primarily revolves around our ERP system, [Microsoft] Dynamics NAVision, and all the apps we create along with all the utilities that integrate data from abroad into our internal systems. It's a fluid role because it has to do with business processes, systems, and people.
What challenge were you trying to address with ArtyGeek?
We were looking for someone to help us with app development. We're in the egg industry and not many software solutions exist in our market because it's a small, niche industry. There are some vendors, but they're small and have no competition but they would need to advance their solutions to be really good. Right now, the offerings are only okay. So we were looking for a partner who could create solutions that will improve our business by making solutions that don't otherwise exist.
How did you come to work with ArtyGeek?
I know a partner in the company because I worked with him 8 or 9 years ago. I asked if he could a simple app for me to begin with and then we added more and more functions and then we integrated with our ERP system and so on. It's not an app you can buy, it's only for our internal use. Now we're going to develop more apps because the first app was presented to the ownership board and the board was very eager to develop more apps.
What was the scope of their involvement?
We have a lot of field sales people, so the primary purpose of the app is to provide them with an integrated method of displaying all the stores in their respective sales districts on Google Maps. It integrates with the customer data in our ERP. They have a very quick way to view which stores they've visited in the last however many days and which stores they need to visit. It's very easy to see on our map graphics. For each store they go in to, they can see through the ERP integration which products have been sold to that store and what sales opportunities exist. The sales team can easily re-order products, selecting various products and quantities, and it's all sent back to the ERP in an automated fashion so we can batch big orders.
It's very easy to use and it's an offline solution, too, so when a sales person loses 3G/4G connection because there somewhere in say Sweden without coverage, the app will store the order request and then send it as soon as an internet connection is re-established.
How much have you invested with them?
We first started working with ArtyGeek in November last year. Our budget for the whole project is 1 million dollars and we plan to spend $80,000-$90,000 of that with Arty Geek. The total budget is so large because we're going replace all of our current systems. We divided the scope into very small projects so far have only spent less than $10,000 with Arty Geek. We're planning to build four or five apps with them.
What is the status of this engagement?
I'm working with ArtyGeek now for that reason. I've been in their offices again recently because I have a philosophy that when you start up a new project, it's very good to sit together for a few days face to face to discuss everything. We'll discuss 80% of the project then I'll go home and we'll continue via e-mail and Skype.
How did ArtyGeek perform from a project management standpoint?
They've performed very well in terms of project management. We've been working using Agile methods. They understand the business very well.
What did you find most impressive about them?
The understanding between us and their understanding of how to speak in business terms is impressive. Their ability to transform business processes into technical solutions is good. Another thing they're good at is questioning why we want to do something instead of just doing it. From that process, they're able to make better suggestions on how to do something.
It's essential that they have a very high technical understanding, but also a good understanding of our business. They came in not knowing anything about the egg industry but they've come to understand our business very well even though it's different and complicated.
Are there any areas they could improve?
One thing they could improve is their English, though so could I. If they want to expand broadly, they don't need perfect English but it can always be improved. They have some people that are really good. Secondly, they could create a communication channel with customers - some kind of tool - where they set a scope and report progress against that and the budget instead of having a dialogue about it all the time.